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Jimmy Carter, Jerry Brown: Men of vision

President Jimmy Carter installed 31 solar panels on the White House on June 20, 1979. At the dedication ceremony Carter predicted: “In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy.” Carter was wrong: In 1986 the Ronald Reagan removed the 20 panels. But Carter was also right. The panels are still working, just not on the White House.

What happened to those panels? One of them is at the Carter Library, and another just arrived in Dezhous, China, where it is being installed as a permanent working display at the Solar Science and Technology Museum. China produces 80 percent of the solar water heaters used in the world today, and found the Carter solar panels historically important. Carter was a man of great vision. Too bad we listed to Exxon/Mobil and Dick Cheney instead of President Carter.

The 36-year-old Gov. Jerry Brown also was pushing solar power. He also wanted a space satellite for California’s emergency communications, a wacky, futuristic idea which won him the name of ‘Governor Moonbeam,’ given him by Chicago Tribune writer Mike Royko. The derisive moniker stuck, but today it is a title for which Brown is deeply pleased.

Brown had the foresight to promote alternative energy ideas, carpool lanes, computers in classrooms, and other such “nonsense” that was considered far-fetched at the time, but are now considered routine. “Gov. Moonbeam” is a wise leader with great vision.

Joe Crews


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